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“This year served us a smorgasbord of reality television escapism in the form of wholesome programming: shows that deal primarily in compassion, support, and empathy, and make you weep out of joy and closure, rather than sadness. They’re an uplifting antidote to reality TV, past and present, shows that focus on interpersonal drama or aggressive competition—think The Bachelor, Survivor, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, or American Idol. Rather, these new programs seem to understand the value of, say, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn being a fan favorite for his kindness and dotage over contestants—and they make that ethos their whole premise.
It’s hard to know why, exactly, there was such an embrace of this genre in 2018. Perhaps it’s thanks to the more and more precarious economic health of the millennial generation, or the sheer exhaustion over a toxic presidency. Whatever the reason, we’re all clearly grasping for a smidgen of something like TLC but with a little more wit. Here are a few of our favorite wholesome shows of 2018, and why we love them:
Queer Eye premiered this year, but it feels like Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk have been with us so much longer. Much of that is thanks to a successful rebrand of the core concept of the original 2000s reality television makeover show, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. Rather than an exotifying notion of gay men “beautifying” straight men, 2018’s Queer Eye bankrolls on the increasingly popular notion of self-care, and the idea that everyone deserves self-love and to feel that compassion reflected around them.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"In a bid to create new space for green industries and fossil-free energy production, greater Copenhagen wants to build an entirely new business and infrastructure district on the city’s southwestern edge."
Donald Trump ran for president saying that he would be a shrewd businessman with a propensity for making deals. Why, then, are we in the longest government shutdown on record?
"There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think... In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides."
"I've always wondered what fans see in her. After debating with a friend about her “merits” for over half a decade now, I thought I had found the one thing that could probably change my opinion of the pop star: the Reputation tour documentary..."
"Even if the economy is on a roll, many Americans aren’t feeling the benefit... In fact, when adjusted for cost of living increases, real wages actually declined 1.3% since the end of 2017, PayScale found."
"Cutting ties with Facebook would mean consciously cutting ties with my own community, and I can't bring myself to do it. When I asked my connections on Facebook why they were staying, their answers were very similar to mine..."
Fear of the news; fear of climate change, fear of touch screens... these New Yorker cartoons portray the modern phobias that are driving us crazy.
"Texts replaced authors as the privileged objects of scholarly knowledge, and the performance of critical operations on texts became essential to the scholar’s identity."
"When I speak to parents’ groups about kids who are addicted to Fortnite and other video games, I tell them that it is the parents’ job to limit, govern and guide their kids’ use of video games..."
"Startups like Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce say they're helping to reduce food waste in America. Critics say they're deceiving their customers and making the problem worse."
"Scholars are now interested in whether having a vocabulary item for a concept influences thought in domains far from language, such as visual perception."
"The much-documented anti-Semitism of the British Labor party leader is no accident... Jeremy Corbyn reminds us that anti-Semitism is not just an irrational hatred, harbored by madmen at the fringes of British society."